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It's Time to Admit We Have a Favorite Child

Photograph by Getty Images

A website called parentdish recently revealed the results of a survey, which said that 34 percent of mothers and 28 percent of fathers admitted to having a favorite child. The other 66 percent of mothers and 72 percent of fathers? Clearly they were lying when they said they like their kids equally.

Assuming all parents love their children (please, God), who in their right mind doesn’t favor one kid over another? Seriously, people, is this not something we can all cop to?

RELATED: I Have a Favorite Child ... At Mealtime

OK, I’ll start: It will come as no surprise to me or anyone who knows my family that my sister is far and away my parents’ favorite child.

I don’t blame them, really. She never went through a rebellious phase growing up, whereas I am arguably still deeply entrenched in the one I started shortly after being born. She went to law school after college, whereas I became an NBC Page and got paid so little to wear a blue uniform and give tours of empty TV studios that my dad had to cough up more than half my rent, just so I wouldn’t continue annoying them in their home four years after they earned empty-nesters’ status.

While I’ve since gone on to enjoy some success—a great husband, fulfilling career and funny, healthy kids—I’m doing it 2,000 miles away from all of my family, which necessitates plane rides in order for them to enjoy their grandchildren and, even then, the grandkids insist on making a mess in their home.

In other words, I’m a constant thorn in their side. I don’t like being the least-favorite child, but I also recognize it doesn’t mean my parents love me any less. And even if they do, I know they still love me (please, God). I’m different from them, for sure, but that my choices would be different from theirs for me doesn’t mean their affection for me is affected.

It would seem that healthy parenting would be having the ability to admit that all children are not created equal.

My husband and I also know from having favorite children. I’m not naming names, especially that of our older daughter. She’s almost 5 and a huge pain in the ass. We love her to death, but we often have to stop ourselves from strangling her to death. She whines incessantly and always wants stuff—like food and attention.

On the other hand, our younger daughter, who is not yet 2, is all smiles, sunshine and cuddles. She demands nothing—except for food. But when she eats, she’s cute. And she eats everything, unlike her older sister, who could easily live on a diet of air and the word “no.”

Why is it so hard for parents to admit that all is not equal? Some children are easier than others. Admitting you have a favorite doesn’t mean you wish harm on one child, or that you don’t love them. Wouldn’t maybe admitting it even force the lesser of the evils to try and compete for most-favored-child status? Would that be so bad? You know, except for the child being forced to compete for his parent’s affection?

Do kids really need to be coddled to extent that we need to reward all behavior by pretending all is well instead of admitting they annoy us? Who is that helping, exactly? Us? Our kids? So they can go on and annoy other people with their annoying behavior? Or maybe they can learn that all is not equal everywhere, and that’s just life, and sometimes they actually have to act differently if they want to rise in someone else’s esteem?

Healthy parenting, it would seem, would be coping with and talking freely about the reality that raising children is not all sunshine, roses and rosy-cheeked children from sun up to sun down.

RELATED: Parents Really Do Have a "Favorite" Child

It would seem that healthy parenting would be having the ability to admit that all children are not created equal. And while you have all the love in your heart for all of them, you kind of definitely favor the one who didn’t wake you up before sun up or keep you up well after the sun went down.

Or the one who didn't make you travel to see your grandkids. The one who ate what you put in front of her the first time (not the 15th) and didn't just swallow two bites, only to appear at your bedside four hours later with a tear-streaked face complaining of starvation. Not that we’re naming any names.

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